We are born into this world longing. Infants first long to return to the safety of the womb. They may not “consciously” know this, but the cries of a newborn are cries to return to what they knew of the womb. That longing transforms in a relatively brief time into wanting to be cuddled and fed. As we grow up, the longings become more complicated. We long for that certain tasty dish of food we had once long ago. We long for a friend, a beloved, a trip to the Caribbean, protection for our loved ones, a cure for cancer, success, a political agenda, the end of prejudice and economic disparity, the reign of God ....We all probably know a marriage of dear friends somewhere along the way that crashed largely because the couple had lost the ability to long for one another’s company and companionship; they took each other for granted, lost the longing for more, and somehow the love seemed to fade with the longing.
St. Augustine of Hippo wrote: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” At the root of all our longings is the one longing to be in perfect communion with God. What are you longing for these days? And how does that longing play out for you in your relationships with others and with God?
I seem to be going through a period of especially intense longing. I long for deeper friendships. I long for more and deeper life at Kingston Parish. As I deal with people struggling with finances in our area and the sick and the grieving in our congregation, I long for healing and hope. And in some way, my longings are not likely to be fulfilled. As Jesus put it: “the poor will always be with you.” I will always want more friends. I will always wish and work for more for Kingston Parish just as I long for more for my own children. And I long for God. I long for a prayer life that doesn’t have days when I don’t feel very connected or focused. I long for a faith that knows what I am really called to do today and for the future. I long for a certainty that the great mystery of God never affords. And in momentary flashes of deeper wisdom, which is about as close as I get to wisdom, I know that the longings of my life are themselves gifts. Longing to love more is love. Longing for God more is faith. We so often tell ourselves that we want to “possess” the answers, success, our goals, whatever. But the deepest most important things in life – especially people and God, are not ours to possess. Even we ourselves are not in our own grasp in some ways. I am most alive when I am not in control, but in God’s mysterious grasp. Longing is a gift. Waiting, wanting, searching, aching and groaning for more – they are all part of the journey that never ends, the eternal life God gives us in abundance. May you and I always yearn for more of God.
The Very Rev. Gary Barker